The Black Scorpion
by Andreas Economakis
The procession snaked through the village’s narrow streets. Up front, four men carried the flower-decorated icon of the Virgin Mary. The town folk followed, lit candles sheltered in cupped hands, religious songs competing with one another up and down the crowd. Easter Friday. Epitaphios. The Epitaph procession.
Earlier, my brothers and I had been jammed in Agios Dimitrios church, packed like rice kernels in vine leaves, holding our candles carefully in front of us, trying not to burn anyone. When the service ended we were ushered out of the church and pushed into line, the procession taking off for the village’s main church, Panagia Evangelistra. We were all eager to get there. A huge fireworks display was going to take place in front of the church. I loved watching the fireworks, especially the phosphorous ones you throw on the ground and step on, blue-green sparks scattering about busy feet in a shower of noise.
But that was all to come. First we had to snake through the village, past the scary fisherman’s house, up through the castle and down to the other church. The scary fisherman was this huge guy who always walked around alone and barefoot. People would move to the other side of the street or take another street altogether when they saw him. No one talked to him. He was scary. He had a very menacing look, kind of like the chubby shaved-head guy who blows his brains out in “Full Metal Jacket.” Village rumor had it that he was a pederast, a killer, a bad man.
One day my mom drove us into the village so she could shop. My bothers and I normally wandered around the small cobblestone streets and musty wharf together, playing and messing around while our mother took care of business. The village always seemed like a huge playground to us. For some reason, that day we all scattered, all three of us exploring different areas. When the hour was up I made my way back to the car by the port and found my mother and brothers and several villagers in a heated conversation. A small fishing boat hurriedly putt-putted away, leaving the harbor. Though far away I could tell it was the huge, evil fisherman. I approached the crowd. Evidently my mom had returned to the car in the knick of time. She saw the huge, evil fisherman lowering my brother into his already running fishing boat. She rushed over and pulled her child out. Before she could say anything, he motored away. Who knows what could have happened?
Anyway, the Easter procession hobbled along and then came to a sudden, grinding halt. People stopped singing and started muttering and asking why we stopped. I weaved my way to the front, to see what was going on. The procession had come to a stop directly in front of the evil fisherman’s house. A couple of meters in front of the icon was a large black scorpion, its glistening velvet black tail pointed upwards. The priests and folks at the front of the crowd had stalled, trying to figure out what to do with this evil omen. Finally a young man stepped forward and bravely crushed the scorpion under foot. A few people applauded and the procession started up again. I went back and rejoined my family. As we passed the evil fisherman’s house I noticed the curtains snap shut. He was inside, dark and glistening. Alone.
This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.
Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.